Does Action Challenging Methods Used by Bank to Pay Bach Residential Mortgage Loans Come Under Class Action ?
In Hamilton v. Ohio Sav. Bank, 82 Ohio St.3d 67, 1998 Ohio 365, 694 N.E.2d 442, mortgagors brought an action on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, to challenge certain methods used by the Ohio Savings Bank to amortize their residential mortgage loans.
Specifically, the mortgagors argued that in calculating interest, the bank used a method which charged the mortgagors interest at rates that were in excess of their agreed contract rates of interest.
The trial court summarily denied class certification.
The court of appeals held that the trial court had properly denied certification under Civ.R. 23(B)(3) because "when the borrowers discovered or should have discovered the amortization problem in their loans for purposes of the statute of limitations, necessarily involves an independent inquiry for each potential member of the class."
The supreme court reversed the trial court's denial of class certification, and allowed the action to proceed on the mortgagors' claims for fraud, waiver and estoppel, and unjust enrichment.
In so doing, the supreme court explained that:
"In this case, the questions of law and fact which have already been shown to be common to the class arise from identical or similar form contracts.
The gravamen of every complaint within the class is the same and relates to the use of standardized procedures and practices.
No individual has attempted to institute a parallel action or to intervene in this action, and it is unlikely that any new suits will be filed given the relatively small individual recoveries and the massive duplication of time, effort, and expense that would be involved.
This appears to present the classic case for treatment as a class action, and cases involving similar claims or similar circumstances are routinely certified as such." Hamilton, 82 Ohio St.3d at 80.